Global Trends in Education in the 21st Century: Webinar

August 31, 2010

I am delighted that the Centre for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) invited me to give their Spotlight Presentation for September. Join us for this free PD webinar for educators and students:

Title: 21st Century Global Trends in Education

Date: September 8, 2010

Time: 14:00 – 15:00 Mountain Time (Click here to convert for your time zone).

We’ll go over the top 7 trends that are occurring in education across the globe at every level, from elementary school through to post-secondary levels and beyond. You’ll get tips on how to engage learners and create your own “best teaching practices” for the 21st century.

Register through CILC here.


Interview with Paul Rogers: Leading by Example Series

August 30, 2010

This series is dedicated to highlighting the impact made by exemplary literacy and language professionals who lead by example. They share their inspirational tips and stories. This week we highlight the work of Paul Rogers, creator of the Pumarosa language learning program.

What is your name, affiliation, and connection to language learning?

My name is Paul Rogers and I have been teaching ESL for more than 20 years. I am also the author of a free website for Spanish speakers, PUMAROSA.COM, which has been online for 6 years, and is now widely used.

What are your thoughts about leadership and language learning?

Leaders in our field should lead by example, not only as teachers but as language students. It is also very important to investigate the uses of new technologies as applied to language learning. And I also feel it is important to champion what I call a multi-cultural, multi-lingual approach, i.e. respecting, appreciating and learning from other cultures and languages.

In your opinion, what’s the most important aspect of a language teacher’s job?

I used to think that my job should be providing adequate and interesting lessons so that the students would be able to learn English as easily as possible. Although I still believe that aspect of the job is important, after studying your reports and articles, I have realigned my thinking! Learning languages is a life-long endeavor that is very important not only to the individual but also to society as a whole.

We must be frank and honest with language learners and tell them there is no quick fix, no fast track.

So now I look at my job as a resource and as a guide, and as an advisor and a friend. I have to say that I am more relaxed and probably more effective as a teacher now.

What are some of the projects you’ve been involved with that you would like to share?

I promote PUMAROSA and sell materials, such as workbooks.

Otherwise, I have developed a “Home Study” program for Spanish speaking adults. I teach classes in the students’ homes in groups of 4 or 5. The materials used include my texts, audio CDs and DVDs, along with PUMAROSA, You Tube and a few bilingual websites that feature popular US songs. I also show the students how to use a computer. I encourage everyone to buy a used computer for about $50 at the second hand stores nearby. Some of them went out and bought brand new computers! I have discovered that many people spend up to $100 a month in telephone calls back home. But with a computer hooked up to the internet for less than $50 a month, they can call back home for as long as they wish for free. Some of my students use a webcam, and I even “taught” a class to their families in Mexico!

What do you see as three new directions in language learning?

  1. The use of technology, in my view, changes the direction of language learning significantly. Now adult learners and families can basically learn at home without a teacher. This new development in distance learning makes language learning more democratic. Previously only a few people were able to attend classes, which were under the control of the teacher, i.e. ‘teacher centered”. Now learning can become ‘student centered’ so that mothers with children, for example, will not be excluded from learning anything.
  2. All of which leads to teachers becoming more and more like a guide or advisor rather than an authority figure. Paolo Freire would be very pleased with this shift.
  3. Distance learning programs will become the norm, with more and more community based involvement.

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A comprehensive list of marketing resources for language and literacy programs

August 26, 2010

I’ve put together a Diigo list of online resources to help you market your language programs better. Many of them are articles I’ve written over the years, and there are resources from a few other people in there, too. These resources are mostly free, online resources.

This list is specifically targeted for language schools and literacy programs. You won’t find links here to general marketing sites. I’ve used laser-like precision to build a list just for language school administrators, language program marketers, literacy program directors, language teachers and literacy advocates.

If you know of a great resource, please send a comment and if it fits in with the list, I’ll be happy to add it!

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Teacher resources: Digital Visuals Galore!

August 24, 2010

Here are some of my favorite resources for free photos and clip art for language teachers and literacy tutors.

University of Victoria’s Language Teaching Clipart Library – This site has about 3000 images, available either on a transparent background or on a white background. This is a super resource for teaching vocabulary.

The Realia Project – All the images in this digital media database has been reviewed by language teaching professionals to ensure their quality and appropriateness for the classroom.

Digital Saskatchewan – This site houses almost 9000 images and over 80 videos. The topic is the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The images however, may be applicable to language teachers from many other places, too.

Free Educational Clipart – Find graphics in colour and black-and-white, along with links to clip art sources on other sites.

The Teacher Files: Free Educational Clip art – A list of links to a variety of clip art pages that are designed specifically for educators.

Pics4Learning – A copyright friendly image library for teachers and students.

Mark Treadwell’s Internet Tools for Teachers – Online Image Libraries – Links to a variety of sites that offer royalty-free photography for educators.

FreeFoto.com – Over 100,000 free high-quality photos. Linkback and attribution are required. This site has some very high quality photos that I just love.

FreeStockPhotos.com – Thousands of high-quality photos. Linkback and attribution are required.

PD Photo – A variety of (mostly free) photos for educators.

50 Places to Find Images – A super blog post by TJ McCue. Although the article is aimed at businesses, many of these resources work for education, too.

Disclaimer: The licensing agreements offered by these sites may change from time to time, so be sure to read over the acceptable use policy for each site before using their images.

Do you have a favorite site here that I’ve missed? If so, leave a comment and share your favorite site with us.

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Interview with Meike Thomsen: Leading by Example Series

August 23, 2010

This series is dedicated to highlighting the impact made by exemplary literacy and language professionals who lead by example. They share their inspirational tips and stories. This week I’m delighted to showcase a teacher in a German bilingual program, who inspires young learners to study German, and also mentors her fellow teachers as part of her professional practice.

What is your name, affiliation, and connection to language learning?
My name is Meike Thomsen and I’m the learning leader for the first German Bilingual Junior High Program within the public Calgary Board of Education. The program welcomes its first students in September 2010. Previously, you could find me in the same capacity in the German Bilingual elementary school of the CBE. In a bilingual school, mathematics is taught in the target language. It is my luck (and the students’)  that I love mathematics and have been working with teachers on improving math pedagogy for the past 2 years before ‘rejoining’ the German Bilingual program at the Junior High level; ordering all their resources, library collection and determining which German Math book suits our Alberta curriculum best.

What are your thoughts about leadership and language learning?
It is my strong belief that every person should speak at least two languages and should have travelled at least once for an extended period of time to a country where the language is spoken. If we are looking at gaining world peace, we need to be able to understand each other. In order to understand another culture, we have to be able to communicate in their language and need to have lived within the culture for at least a year to truly understand it.

This is the reason why all European countries encouraged the exchange of youth between cities after World War II. The city I grew up in had a ‘sister city’ in England. Every year teenagers from my city went to visit there for 2 weeks and then the British youth would come and visit us for 2 weeks. The reasoning behind? You don’t fear what you know  You also don’t want to fight a war with a nation you have visited.

Here is an example that struck me when I learned of it: During World War II an American General was ordered to bomb one of the oldest German cities (Rothenburg op de Tauber). He couldn’t bring himself to do this, because he had visited this city as a young man and new of its historical importance. This city still has original parts dating back to the 11th century. Thanks to this general, this part of German history is alive today, because he had a personal connection to Rothenburg and knew what it would mean to destroy a city like that.

In your opinion, what’s the most important aspect of a language teacher’s job?
Engagement! People who learn a second language need to be engaged and they need to understand the importance of learning a second language. In the literature review of my thesis, I have a whole section on what the benefits of second language learning are.

While adult learners usually have a very specific reason for learning a second language, children and youth need to have fun doing it. Singing, puppet plays, watching German movies and having a German pen pal (email pal) are just a few things that will engage them in learning.

The second important aspect of a language teacher is the ability to teach the culture of the other country in a way that shows children/adults that our cultures do share some commonalities, but that there are distinct differences and… this is what they are. Personal space is a major one. Our personal bubble is much bigger here in Canada than in a lot of other countries. What is considered rude or polite? What is considered harassment? To teach cultural awareness is important and can be a lot of fun.

What are some of the projects you’ve been involved with that you would like to share?
The biggest project was my research in regards to my thesis: “The Sustainability of the German Bilingual Program in Calgary”. One of the most interesting (and frustrating) experiences was that parents had complained to me about not having a voice and not getting input … yet when I was looking for research participants (a survey and a focus group) not many were forthcoming. It took me 3 different attempts and approaches to get a sufficient numbers of parents to complete the initial survey.

What do you see as three new directions in language learning?
Thanks to the evolution in technology, the interactive part of language learning has become much easier. Teachers can find teachers in the target language’s country, connect, and then connect their students. Skype is free and kids can talk to each other, using the language they are learning. It makes the language come alive and removes it from the sterility of the classroom and the textbook. Using Skype also allows the students to use their hands, body and signs to help with communications – a phone call relies exclusively on words, which is much harder for beginners.

Today, we encourage students to speak – no matter how bad the grammar might be. This is a change in attitude and is still hard for the students to do. When I learned English, our instructors encouraged us to write down the sentence and ‘get it perfect’ before trying to speak … which resulted in very stilted and not natural conversations.

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Are you waiting for the good old days?

August 20, 2010

Remember the good old days of funding, back when classes were small, classrooms were well-stocked, teachers were paid well and education was well funded? When was that exactly? If we think back, probably that time, if it ever existed was back in the 1970s or so.

By the mid-1980’s, massive cutbacks to education began across the developed world. In Canada in the U.S. the phrase “cost recovery programs” was introduced, meaning that courses such as those offered by continuing education branches of large public educational institutions and boards. In the UK, education changed dramatically under Margaret Thatcher. Class sizes grew. Morale among teachers dropped. Salaries stayed the same, as wage freezes took effect.

Do you still wish for the days before all the changes? I hate to break it to you, but they’re not coming back. There are fewer and fewer full-time positions available in all job sectors now. Outsourcing to countries where labor costs are much less expensive is taking over the world at a rapid pace. Educational experiences online are budding right through the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.

The question is, what do we do now? I’d argue that the trick is to think forwards instead of backwards. Look around and assess what you really have in the 21st century. More teachers than every have graduate degrees. Classrooms are more technologically advanced than they have ever been. Children love to learn and play just as much as they ever did. And most of them can’t relate to those “good old days” because what exists today is the norm for them.

If we assess the current situation with a view to valuing what we have today, it shifts our perspective, putting us in a space of possibility and expanding horizons, rather than a black hole that sucks in your energy, your spirit and your love of teaching.

The question is not “How do we get our funding back?” but rather “How do we maximize the tremendous resources we have in terms of wisdom, knowledge, experience and potential to ensure that our students have the best experience we can give them today?”

The greatest gift we can give our children and our students is a future full of possibility, curiosity, creativity and compassion for their fellow humans. To do so, requires forward thinking and a commitment to make it happen for them.

What are you waiting for?


Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits – Webinar recording

August 19, 2010

What an amazing hour we just spent with Chris Forbes, co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits!

We were so privileged to have Chris donate his time to talk about marketing for nonprofit organizations, how to raise funds, promote programs and develop a marketing strategy. Learn Central / Elluminate provided both the technology and the tech support to make it happen.

If you missed it, check out the recording.

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